Rubbery eggs begone!
Do you like your scrambled eggs so smooth they’re practically a sauce? Or do you prefer them to be large fluffy clouds? Are you a folded omelet fan or like it rolled? Do you like the top of your frittatas browned or would rather skip that crust?
Whichever way you take your eggs there is one universal truth: they can’t be dry and rubbery.
So let’s talk about how to prevent that from happening.
Isn’t it crazy that eggs go from liquid to solid just by applying heat? 🤯
What makes them do it?!? Just this seven-letter word: protein!
Okay, well that’s not entirely true. There are a bunch of other words that make it happen too. So maybe we just chalk it up to this seven-letter word: science! 🧪🤓
Eggs are full of protein. And those proteins are like strands of wire all tangled together with water molecules mixed in. Heat causes those proteins to unfold and then come together as they stretch and stick. Think of it like pulling a pile of tangled wires taut until they form a strong cord. It goes from a liquid to a solid structure. It’s a process called coagulation.
Result? Dry, rubbery eggs.
The best way to make sure your eggs don’t turn dry and rubbery is to not overcook them. When less heat is applied, there isn’t time to squeeze out all the moisture. So your eggs stay tender, not chewy.
But eggs are sensitive. They are very in touch with their feelings. They cry often in movies. And...Sorry, not that kind of sensitive.
Eggs go from undercooked to overcooked in seconds! Whether you’re scrambling, omelet-ing, or quiche-ing, you have to be careful.
Here’s my trick for not overcooking your eggs.
Always finish cooking eggs off heat. Cook your eggs until they are 80-90% done and then remove them from direct heat. The hot skillet, pan, or dish will continue to cook them, but they’ll do it more gently. You’ve got a greater margin of error before the eggs are overdone.
Fat makes it more challenging for protein strands to tighten. It gets in the way! So if you mix fat into raw eggs before they’re cooked, they will hold onto more moisture and are less likely to dry out.
Cooks Illustrated did a fun experiment where they cooked two sets of omelets. One mixed cubed butter into the raw eggs, the other didn’t. Otherwise, they were cooked the exact same way. Once cooked, they rolled the eggs into an omelet and then placed a 2lb (0.9kg) weight on each of them. The omelet cooked without the added butter held the weight. But the butter omelet (🥁), got crushed.
The protein structure was weaker resulting in a more tender omelet that all taste tasters preferred. Pretty cool, right?
There are a few different ways to add fat to a mix of raw eggs:
Salt is known to draw moisture out of vegetables and meat. On the surface, you’d think the salt might draw moisture out of eggs too. So it probably makes sense to wait until after the eggs are cooked to add salt.
Salt actually affects the electrical charge on the proteins in the eggs. This reduces how much the proteins bond together, keeping more moisture in, and making the eggs more tender overall!
So always add salt to raw eggs when mixing them together. At least 15 minutes in advance is ideal.
Where I learned this: The Science of Good Cooking, this article on Serious Eats, this scrambled egg video from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, and On Food and Cooking by Harold McGhee.
P.S. Aren’t you proud of me? I went through this whole piece without making any dumb egg puns! I know. I know. A good egg pun is hard to beat. But sometimes, I feel like they aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Even great comedy-hens have to know when not to tell a yolk. 😜
P.P.S. Do you know why the new eggs felt so good? Because they just got laid! 😉